Winter Coats And Car Seats Do Not Mix

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

A gentle reminder that your child may not be safely strapped in if they’re in a bulky winter coat

What do you do when you’re forced to drive in freezing temperatures with little ones who still need to be secured in car seats? Getting into a freezing car may be the last time you’d think about peeling your child’s bulky winter coat off, but according to Consumer Reports, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

Bulky winter coats and car seats do not mix. You may think you’ve got your child strapped in snug, but in case of impact, those bulky coats will compress — leaving your child virtually unprotected. Car seat safety experts are trying to get the message out there: do not secure your child in a car seat while they are in a bulky winter coat.

Peeling a coat off your child during the freezing winter months is counter-intuitive, and probably the reason that some parents are not safely securing their kids. I know it’s something I never really thought about until this winter, because it’s the first time I’ve driven in cold weather. I’m totally guilty of securing both my children in their car seats with bulky coats on. I didn’t think about the possibility of the coats compressing until I came across this Facebook post this morning, and I consider myself someone who is very particular and concerned about car seat safety.

Consumer Reports provides a a simple way to check if your child’s coat is too big and bulky to wear under their harness:

Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat. Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he was wearing the coat.
If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.

If you find that a coat cannot be worn safely under the straps, here are a few pointers for keeping your child warm:

After securing your child in his/her child seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes and the back of the coat acting like a blanket
Lay a blanket over your child to keep him/her warm.

Maybe this is something everyone already knows, but if it can help one parent who didn’t know they weren’t safely securing their child — mission accomplished.

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